Level 42 founding member took his own life, inquest concludes

Steven Morris and agency
Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

A founding member of the pop band Level 42 who quit the music industry because of mental health issues and moved to Devon took his own life, a coroner has concluded.

Guitarist Rowland “Boon” Gould, 64, was found dead at a friend’s home in Uffculme, Devon, on 30 April this year.

He had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and told doctors he had suffered from depression all his life, the inquest in Exeter was told.

The assistant Devon coroner Deborah Archer described Gould as a talented and much-loved musician. But she said: “Boon had a difficult and complex history, which I find adversely affected his mental health.

“He had coped with these issues sometimes without being completely open and honest with family and friends about the degree of suffering that he was going through.”

The coroner said Gould tried different types of therapy but did not find anything that consistently worked for him.

She said this was likely due to his “wish not to trouble others and the deep-seated nature of his problems, coupled with a tendency to self-medicate”.

Gould’s wife, Moira, said her husband had been “open” about his mental health problems during their 17-year marriage. “He talked about how exhausting it was to be him,” she told the inquest. “He had constant voices in his head. He had a constant internal battle.” His wife described Gould as intelligent, modest and caring but eccentric and fun.

Dr Clare Matthews, his family doctor, said Gould had a long history of mental health problems and alcoholism. The inquest heard Gould told doctors he consumed a bottle or half a bottle of whisky per day.

“He became a successful guitarist and led a lifestyle characterised as heavy drinking, cocaine drug abuse and mental health problems, which ultimately led to him retiring from the music business in the 1990s,” Matthews said. “He retired to move to Devon for a quieter life.”

Det Sgt Lucy Skinner, of Devon and Cornwall police, said Boon was last seen alive buying whisky and coke from a local shop on 27 April, three days before his body was found.

The inquest heard that in the year before he died, he became agitated at being asked to do jury service. He caused damage at the family home and disappeared, sparking a police search.

A post mortem concluded he died from hanging and there was a small amount of alcohol in his system.

Charles Dixon, a psychiatrist, said Gould suffered mood swings all his adult life but that at times he felt invincible and would write songs in the middle of the night.

After his death, Gould’s brother and band member, Phil Gould, wrote that his heart was “beyond broken”. The Level 42 vocalist Mark King described Gould as a “dear friend and brother”.

The coroner concluded Gould had taken his own life.

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